Doctors and COVID-19 Vaccination- A case of “Physician, Heal Thyself?”

Incision Indemnity
Surgeons - Medical Professionals -
24th February 2021
2 mins read

As the COVID-19 Vaccination program progresses with speed across the UK, our members will be aware that not all patients are accepting the offer of a jab; a decision for each individual patient to make for themselves.

Our members should, however, be aware that they themselves are in a special position when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccination. This is due to the fact that they treat vulnerable patients on a daily basis and risk passing on the coronavirus at each face-to-face consultation, even with the use of PPE equipment. As such, they should consider carefully their own decision on being vaccinated and as front-line staff, they will be high up on the list of priority patients and should be offered it early on.

The GMC has published advice on their website as below:

As a doctor, should I be vaccinated against COVID-19?

In Good medical practice we say at paragraph 29 that doctors should be immunised against common serious communicable diseases, unless this is contraindicated.

While there is no absolute duty to be vaccinated against any particular disease, there is a potential risk of inadvertently spreading coronavirus to vulnerable patients. This weighs in favour of doctors being vaccinated unless there are good reasons why it isn’t appropriate in your individual circumstances.

We recognise that you may need to take account of any underlying health conditions. In some cases, there may be other appropriate options for managing any risk to patients and colleagues. 

If you have good reason not to be vaccinated, you need to be confident that there are measures in place where you work to manage any risk of transmission to patients. You will need to take appropriate steps to reduce risks and prioritise patient safety.

In addition, The BMA, NHS England and the CMO, Professor Chris Whitty, have clearly stated that Doctors have a ‘professional duty’ to be vaccinated.

There may also be obligations in employment contracts to be vaccinated against communicable diseases and therefore a legal duty to accept the vaccine when it is offered.

We would therefore advise our members to consider their own position carefully in light of the above advice. If you have any further questions, please contact us.


Dr Anahita Kirkpatrick

24 February 2021